For this assignment, I brought ten books out and typed out the beginnings lines and endings lines. It was really interesting to see the differences and similarities in how the authors wrote them. Enjoy!
Crazy Love by Francis Chan
“We all know something’s wrong.”
“May you be able to say at the end of your life, along with Paul, ‘I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing.’ – 1 Timothy 4:7-8 ESV”
I’m reading this book for a girl’s book study at my house. Chan hooks the reader in at the very beginning, getting us to wonder, “What is he talking about? What do I apparently know is wrong?” The ending sentence fully captures the idea of the book, that we need to fight the good fight and keep our faith strong in Christ, which, as he stated at the beginning, isn’t what many Christians are doing right now. When you’re in love with someone, it changes everything, and this book is all about being in love with God.
Duskin by Grace Livingston Hill
“Carol Berkley was still at work in the inner office when the men arrived.”
“’The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her.’”
Hill writes Christian romance, but this one was focused a lot on the action and mystery, which was cool too. The first sentence describes the main character in her office when “the men” or the main villains of the story, arrive. This sets the stage for all the work she does throughout the book in trying to stop the bad guys. Because of her determination to do the right thing, she meets a great guy named Duskin who begins to trust her a lot… and yes, they get married at the end!
Winnie-the-Pooh by Ernest H. Shepard
“Here is Edward Bear, coming downstairs now, bump, bump, bump, on the back of his head, behind Christopher Robin.”
“He nodded and went out… and in a moment I heard Winnie-the-Pooh—bump, bump, bump—going up the stairs behind him.”
This just wants me to go “Awww!” because this book is simply adorable. The style is so delightful to read from beginning to end. I love how Shepard goes full circle in describing Christopher Robin taking Pooh downstairs at the beginning of the book to play with his animals, and then going back upstairs at the end of all the crazy tales.
When the Heart Cries by Cindy Woodsmall
“Hannah Lapp covered the basket of freshly covered eggs with her hand, glanced behind her, and bolted down the dirt road.”
“Regardless of the ways things turned out between them, God had a plan.”
This is the first Amish book I ever read, and besides the second two in the series, they are the only Amish books I plan to read, at least for now (I’m not particularity a fan of them, but they’re all right!). Hannah Lapp is an innocent girl at the beginning of the book, which the first sentence captures really well. The last sentence gives a shout-out to the next book to get you to want to read more. It also shows the development of her character from an innocent girl to a young woman who has learned throughout the book to look to God instead of people for her value and purpose.
The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne
“A throng of bearded men, in sad-colored garments and gray, steeple-crowned hats, intermixed with women, some wearing hoods, and others bareheaded, was assembled in front of a wooden edifice, the door of which was heavily timbered with oak, and studded with iron spikes.”
“‘On a Field, Sable, The Letter A, Gules.’”
The beginning sentence really captures the sad mood of the first chapter, as the Puritans are prepared to bring judgment on the main character, Hester, who has committed adultery. Throughout this book, Hawthorne focuses a lot on description, and often uses colors to help the reader picture things in his or her mind, but also to capture the mood of what’s going on. So, the last sentence, which basically says that the red letter A is in a black background, simply gives a description at first glance. But it also may be describing that the sin of adultery went with Hester even after her death (trust me, guys, I had no idea what the last sentence meant till I looked it up!). So yeah, this is a gloomy book, where both the first and last sentences convey a sad mood.
Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
“It was a pleasure to burn.”
“…And the leaves of the tree were the healing of the nations. Yes, thought Montag, that’s the one I’ll save for noon. For noon… When we reach the city.”
The above sentences reveal the main character, Montag’s transformation throughout the book. He loves to burn books at the beginning of this story, but by the end, instead of desiring to destroy knowledge, he wants to bring it back to the broken world in order to heal it. This is a beautiful conclusion of a profound story about the value and importance of books.
Riley Unlikely by Riley Banks-Snyder with Lisa Velthouse
“If anything has been clear to me over the past seven years, it’s the link between love and craziness.”
“We can’t wait to live with and serve the people of Kibwezi, surrounded by the sounds of children.”
This is a lovable, inspiring memoir about a fourteen-year-old girl who starts a ministry for children in Africa. The first sentence actually comes from the prologue, but I thought I’d use it instead of the one from chapter 1, because it portrays Riley’s heartwarming style. The ending captures that same love she has in her heart, and it really brings out one of the themes of the book: joyfully serving God where He calls you.
Set-Apart Femininity by Leslie Ludy
“It happened when I was 14.”
“Let us live, looking up, looking on, standing true by the grace of Him who called us.” – Amy Carmichael 1867-1961
This is a big slam-you-in-the-face conviction book for young and old women alike. The first sentence leads into a personal story Leslie shares. I love her style of relating personal life stories to reveal how genuine faith works. The last sentence is a wake-up call to action, which is really the theme of the whole book. This non-fiction book really motivates women to live set-apart lives for Christ as lilies among thorns.
The Last Sin Eater by Francine Rivers
“The first time I saw the sin eater was the night Granny Forbes was carried to her grave.”
“For ye are my own little bits of heaven.”
The title of this book may sound weird, but the first sentence goes right into helping you know what on earth a “sin eater” is, which really is what the book is all about. According to legend, the sin eater eats food at funerals, which supposedly eats the dead person’s sins away, letting it consume himself instead, so only he will go to hell and not the dead person. But in this story, a young girl, Cadi, learns of the ultimate sin eater, Jesus, and is changed forever. The last sentence is a sweet scene at the very end, when Cadi is now a grandmother saying goodnight to her grandchildren. It’s interesting that the first and last sentences have something to do with grandmothers. The books starts with the death of Cadi’s grandmother and confusion about the sin eater, and ends with herself being a grandmother with assurance of the ultimate sin eater, Jesus, as she loves and adores her grandchildren. This is an amazing book, and I wish I had time to tell you more about it!
A Voice in The Wind by Francine Rivers
“The city was silently bloating in the hot sun, rotting like the thousands of bodies that lay where they had fallen in street battles.”
“Hunching over, he covered his head and wept.”
This is my favorite book aside from the Bible. Like literally, you need to go buy it right now! Anyway *tries to calm down* the first sentence showcases Rivers’ amazing descriptive style and has a gloomy mood because of the enormous amount of deaths. The last sentence also conveys sorrow because the man believes his true love has died. The intensity and emotion displayed in both of these sentences consists throughout much of the novel. This book is a page-turner, has strong Christian messages, and will endear you to the characters. Warning: you have to be fairly tough skinned to read it, because of how intense it gets at times.
Hope you enjoyed my list! Do you all have any favorite beginnings and/or endings of books? I would love to hear them!
Speaking of which, I will close with the ending of The Last Battle by C.S. Lewis, which is probably my favorite book endings ever (it’s the last Narnia book): “All their life in this world and all their adventures had only been the cover and the title page: now at last they were beginning Chapter One of the Great Story which no one on earth has read: which goes on for ever: in which every chapter is better than the one before.”